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The Morphosyntax of Gender$
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Ruth Kramer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199679935

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199679935.001.0001

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Case study 2: Adding an uninterpretable gender feature

Case study 2: Adding an uninterpretable gender feature

(p.89) 6 Case study 2: Adding an uninterpretable gender feature
The Morphosyntax of Gender

Ruth Kramer

Oxford University Press

This chapter continues to investigate the cross-linguistic predictions of the morphosyntactic analysis of gender developed in Chapter 3. Chapter 3 proposed that Amharic contains a n that has an uninterpretable feminine gender feature, in order to explain feminine arbitrary gender; in contrast, masculine arbitrary gender is assigned by morphological default in the context of a n that lacks gender features. This chapter provides further examples of two-gender languages that contain uninterpretable gender features, including Spanish (Romance), which is like Amharic in that it has an uninterpretable feminine feature. In contrast, Maa (Nilo-Saharan) has a n with an uninterpretable masculine feature. The scope of the chapter also extends to animacy-based gender systems; it is suggested that Algonquian languages like Fox have a gender system that includes a n with an uninterpretable animacy feature. One interesting consequence of these proposals is that the animacy feature must be privative.

Keywords:   gender, morphology, syntax, natural gender, Spanish, Maa(sai), Algonquian, animacy, phi features, interpretability

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